Mexico says catches presumed son of top drug lord

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2012 3:00 PM
Mexico says catches presumed son of top drug lord
By Anahi Rama and Ioan GrilloMEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican marines said on Thursday they had captured a man presumed to be the son of cocaine king Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, the country's most wanted man.The marines arrested Jesus Alfredo Guzman, who is also wanted on drug trafficking charges in the United States, in the western state of Jalisco on Thursday morning, the Mexican Navy said in a statement.His father, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel and has a $5 million price on his head in the United States.The arrest comes just over a week before Mexicans vote for a new leader to replace President Felipe Calderon, who has waged a five-and-a-half-year offensive against drug gangs.The constitution bars Calderon from running for re-election and the candidate of his ruling National Action Party, Josefina Vazquez Mota, is running in third place, in part because of the drug-war violence.Jesus Alfredo Guzman was named as an operative in his father's Sinaloa Cartel in a 2009 indictment in Chicago, which also accused him of racketeering and trafficking.The indictment alleges that the Sinaloa cartel has transported 200 metric tons of cocaine since 1990, making more than $5.8 billion in cash proceeds.Mexican officials did not immediately know if the son also faces charges in Mexico.Joaquin Guzman, nicknamed "El Chapo" in Spanish, escaped a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001 to become the country's most high profile trafficker. He allegedly commands groups of assassins from the U.S. border into Central America.Included on Forbes list of billionaires at $1 billion and Time's list of the world's 100 most influential people, Guzman has been indicted in the United States on dozens of charges of racketeering and conspiracy to import cocaine, heroin, marijuana and crystal meth.Mexican traffickers often work as families and the son of a fellow Sinaloa Cartel leader Ismael "Mayo" Zambada is currently fighting trafficking charges in Chicago as part of the same case.Edgar Guzman, another son of Joaquin Guzman, was shot dead by gunmen in his home state of Sinaloa in 2008. Other sons Ivan Guzman and Ovidio Guzman have also been named as traffickers by the U.S. Treasury and Americans are banned from doing business with their companies.Mexican marines have become an elite force in the military who have captured or shot dead several drug kingpins since 2009.Jalisco state has been a stronghold of the Sinaloa cartel since the 1980s, when traffickers first started to use Mexico as a "trampoline" to bounce cocaine into the United States.It has recently seen an upsurge in violence as Sinaloa Cartel gunmen battle rivals from the upstart Zetas cartel, which is displacing older trafficking groups in many parts of Mexico.In May, 18 decapitated bodies and heads were left on a Jalisco road, adding to about 345 drug-related killings in the state since January.In total there have been more than 55,000 drug-related murders since Calderon took office in December 2006 and began his crackdown on cartels, leading many to criticize his security strategy.The candidate for the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Enrique Pena Nieto, has a double-digit lead heading into the July 1 election according to most opinion polls.(Additional reporting by Simon Gardner; Editing by David Brunnstrom)